VEM 5506 International Veterinary Medicine: Ecuador

This elective course offers students an exposure to international aspects of veterinary medicine that most have not had previous experience, specifically in Quito Ecuador. Students have opportunity to work with small animals (dogs and cats), small ruminants (sheep and goats), cattle and horses. The student organization, Project HEAL, which is the acronym for Project Health Extension and Learning (HEAL) has provided medicine and preventative care in Ecuador under this title for 12 years. In this past year, the group took the step to make their outreach and educational activities an official course of study under the International Veterinary Medicine course title. This year 12 students traveled to Ecuador between June 7 and 16. Clinical instruction was provided by Owen Rae, DVM, MPVM (large animal species) and Carolyn McKune, DVM, DACVA (small animal species), with each giving mutual support to the other. The course objectives were to: further the student's veterinary knowledge and understanding of veterinary medicine and its role in the international community; to observe and address the healthcare needs of animals within an indigent population and be exposed to disease prevention methods in an international setting; to perform physical examinations, administer prophylactic and therapeutic pharmaceuticals/biologicals, and participate in sterilization of small animals within the target outreach populations; to learn principles of herd/population health management and disease prevention; and, to understand the public health implications of interactions between the human and animal populations of the communities.

This elective course (1 credit) is conducted primarily in Ecuador, with the students based in Quito. The students and faculty collaborate with Ecuadorian veterinarians to provide for health and well-being of the local animal populations. The course includes 4-5 preparatory wet labs that take place in the fall and spring semesters at the University of Florida campus prior to the 10 day trip (laboratory) completed in Ecuador. Each wet lab broadens the students' veterinary medicine knowledge base and skill set to accomplish the outreach work that is performed in Ecuador. The Ecuador laboratory experience includes a day of travel each direction, one day for collection of supplies/equipment and acclimation, three days dedicated to small animal immunization/parasite control/sterilization clinics, two days of large animal immunization/parasite control clinics, and two days for cultural experiences (tourism).

For more information on Vet Med Project HEAL, contact: Dr. Owen Rae (, Dr. Carolyn McKune ( or visit: